K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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  • Creating community in the classroom: Part 4 (rewarding improvement): The fourth lesson in a series on improving classroom learning climate, this lesson provides an opportunity to evaluate student progress and to provide positive reinforcement for improvements in behavior. Using a one to ten continuum, students will subjectively evaluate class progress on the ten adjectives listed as class climate goals. After this process, students will publicly recognize those classmates who have helped the class improve or who have personally improved.
  • Creating community in the classroom: Part 2 (cooperative planning): This series of lessons is designed to help develop a sense of classroom community through use of group goal-setting, decision-making, brainstorming, peer feedback, positive reinforcement, and positive peer pressure. The lessons will help students create and maintain a supportive environment for learning. Part 1 focused on goal-setting process and practice. In Part 2, students will apply knowledge of the goal-setting process by cooperatively creating a plan to work on group goals.
  • Creating community in the classroom: Part 3 (monitoring progress): This series of lessons is designed to help develop a sense of classroom community through use of group goal-setting, decision-making, brainstorming, peer feedback, positive reinforcement, and positive peer pressure. The lessons will help students create and maintain a supportive environment for learning. Part 1 focused on goal-setting process and practice. In Part 2, students applied knowledge of the goal-setting process and cooperatively created a plan to work on short-term group goals. In part 3, students will monitor the effects of their plan by determining whether short term goals are being achieved.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • Identify steps in the goal-setting process
  • Describe the importance of goal setting
  • Identify characteristics of a safe, supportive classroom community
  • Practice goal-setting skills by drafting individual and group goals for the year

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

45 minutes

Materials/resources

Pre-activities

This activity is designed for classes of students who are together most of the school day. The Part 1 lesson should be implemented a few weeks into the school year. Students should have been in school long enough to know the names of classmates and should have spent at least two to three weeks working together. Getting acquainted and orientation sessions would usually precede this goal setting activity.

Activities

  1. Begin the lesson by asking each student to give a one-word report on how they feel today. Repeat each report as an affirmation. If any reports need to be discussed, ask helpful questions.
  2. Give each student a blank note card. Ask each student to write on the card three or more adjectives that describe the personality of the class. (“What adjectives would you use to describe this class of students?”) You may need to explain that just as people have individual personalities, groups of people have traits that distinguish them from other groups. Examples may be used to clarify. Students will write in silence and raise their hands when finished so the cards can be collected by the counselor. Cards are not signed and students are urged to “tell it like it is.”
  3. With the help of two student volunteers, adjectives from the note cards are quickly written on blackboard or chart for all to see. When an adjective shows up more than once, use tally marks to record this. When all are listed, circle those adjectives that were listed most frequently.
  4. Process the activity with questions like those listed below:
    • Do you think most people wrote what they really thought on their cards?
    • What do you notice about this adjective list?
    • Do you think the adjectives listed more or less describe the class?
    • If you had a Magic Wand and could be in any type of class you wanted, would it be like the class described by this list? In most classes, the adjectives listed are not all complimentary, and this provides motivation for a goal-setting activity. (On the rare occasion when a class expresses satisfaction, one may ask for areas where the class needs improvement and focus on those areas for the goal-setting activity.)
    • If the behavior of the class is not what you like, can the class behavior be changed?
  5. Ask students, “Has anyone ever been in a club or group or class that:
    • Seemed like it would be wonderful at first?
    • Didn’t seem so wonderful by the third or fourth meeting?
    • Had only a few people show up after the first few meetings?

    Explain that if members of a group don’t discuss what they want the group to be like, people don’t know what is expected and things begin to go wrong. The same is true of classes. Distribute the half-page handout that begins “If you don’t know where you want to go, you will probably end up somewhere else.” Once everyone has a handout, discuss the quote and give examples.

  6. Do a very brief presentation on benefits of goal-setting and steps of the goal-setting process. By setting goals you can:
    • Achieve more
    • Improve performance
    • Increase your motivation to achieve
    • Increase your pride and satisfaction in your achievements
    • Improve your self-confidence
    • Suffer less from stress and anxiety
    • Concentrate better

    Important goal-setting steps include:

    • Setting a goal
    • Looking at options to meet the goal
    • Establishing a plan
    • Thinking about rewards for reaching the goal
    • Monitoring progress toward the goal
    • Evaluating progress, which may mean result in adjusting the goal or the plan or both
  7. Turn attention to the adjectives on the handout, and answer any questions about word definitions. Then have everyone circle on the handout the ten adjectives they wish described their class. They can list adjectives that already describe the class. Questions that may clarify directions include:
    • Can you find ten adjectives on the handout list that you wish described your class?
    • What do you want this class to be like?
    • What do you want the image of the class to be?
    • When others talk about Mr./Ms. ____’s class, what do you want them to say?
  8. Explain that you will tally the votes in the same way the first set of adjectives were tallied. To protect privacy, you will call out adjectives while student helpers tally. You will also hand out results of the voting in a written report the following week/visit.
  9. Ask students to look again at the list of adjectives and to choose three as personal improvement goals. (Choose three adjectives you wish described you or that you wish described you more.) Ask them to write “ME” by their three personal goals.
  10. Have students sign their adjective list handouts and collect the handouts yourself.
  11. With student volunteer help, tally the adjective votes as quickly as possible and identify the top ten. Leave the list of ten adjectives on the board for all to see.
  12. Congratulate the class on their work in analyzing the possibilities on the adjective list and setting their individual priorities. Point out that they have now identified what the class members want the class personality” to be like. THIS CLASS NOW KNOWS WHERE IT WANTS TO GO! The class has goals. Whether the class decides to try to reach the goal is yet to be determined. That topic will be dealt with the next session.
  13. To those who object because they don’t think the class will change, reply “All we are doing today is figuring out what the people in this class want.”
  14. Compliment the class on any or all of the positive behaviors you observed during the session.
  15. Before your next visit to this class, summarize results of the voting in a report that lists the ten adjectives that received the most votes and give each student this report at your next visit. (You can print six or seven reports per page.) Ask students to paste or clip the list of adjectives to something they see every day. Record student individual goals separately and file them with class goals for future use.

Assessment

The students’ ability to describe benefits of goal-setting and steps of the goal-setting process will be assessed with a cooperative learning activity. The activity will review concepts and assess learning. See Creating Community in the Classroom: Part 2 (Cooperative Planning).

Ask the classroom teacher who witnessed the lesson to incorporate concepts from the lesson into other quizzes with extra credit for correct answers.

Supplemental information

Belonging: Creating Community in the Classroom by Mona Halaby

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Guidance (2010)
      • Early Emergent/Emergent

        • EEE.SE.1 Understand the meaning and importance of personal responsibility and self-awareness. EEE.SE.1.1 Contrast appropriate and inappropriate physical contact. EEE.SE.1.2 Illustrate personal responsibility in a variety of settings and situations.
        • EEE.SE.2 Understand the relationship between self and others in the broader world. EEE.SE.2.1 Contrast the influence of self and others in relationship building. EEE.SE.2.2 Explain why it is important to follow rules in order to build relationships. EEE.SE.2.3...
      • Progressing

        • P.SE.2 Understand the relationship between self and others in the broader world. P.SE.2.1 Interpret the meaning of self-concept. P.SE.2.2 Explain how understanding differences among people can increase self-understanding. P.SE.2.3 Use responsible risk-taking...
      • Readiness/Exploration/Discovery

        • RED.SE.1 Understand the meaning and importance of personal responsibility and self-awareness. RED.SE.1.1 Understand the importance of self-control and responsibility. RED.SE.1.2 Identify ways of controlling behaviors associated with emotional states, feelings,...
        • RED.SE.2 Understand the relationship between self and others in the broader world. RED.SE.2.1 Identify ways of making and keeping friends. RED.SE.2.2 Understand how to support positive relationship building (e.g., managing impulsivity, adaptability, and flexibility)....

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Guidance (2001)

Grade 6–8

  • Goal 7: Acquire the attitudes, knowledge, and interpersonal skills to help understand and respect self and others.
    • Objective 7.02: Document change as a part of growth.
    • Objective 7.04: Distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.
    • Objective 7.07: Demonstrate cooperative behavior.
    • Objective 7.08: Document personal strengths and assets.

Grade K–5

  • Goal 7: Acquire the attitudes, knowledge and interpersonal skills to help understand and respect self and others.
    • Objective 7.02: Communicate the goal setting process.
    • Objective 7.04: Distinquish between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.
    • Objective 7.07: Demonstrate cooperative behavior in groups.
    • Objective 7.08: Conclude that everyone has rights and responsibilities.